Coat Tales: Celebrating Creative Collaborations

A creative collaboration hit the catwalk in the heart of Hackney last night. The fashion show featured the final works created in the PROTOTYPE project between the London College of Fashion (LCF) and mums from Morningside Children’s Centre, Hackney. The clothes were designed for and modelled by the women’s children.

 

PROTOTYPE was a 14-week project in which the Morningside Mums learnt how to design, pattern cut and construct coats for their children. The group was taught by LCF’s expert pattern cutter and garment constructor, Claudette Davis-Bonnick and her team. Despite having little to no previous sewing experience, the women developed garments which were both technically and artistically ambitious. The final coats were the products of a lot of hard work and were packed with imaginative and loving details.

 

I had the privilege of meeting this impressive group when they came to the V&A Museum of Childhood a few weeks earlier for a clothing handling session. The aim of the session was to explore the Museum’s children’s coat collection. To interrogate how the items were made, what materials were used and for what purpose they were designed. There are over 6000 items spanning over 400 years in the Museum’s children’s clothing collection, so I was spoilt for choice as to what to show them, but I wanted to offer them a diverse range of styles, materials and techniques. In our handling session, we explored a range of coats for infants, which dated from 1830 to 1940, from the bespoke to mass produced (please see gallery of coats below). During the session, the group uncovered a host of features including homemade buttons, inverted box-pleats, secret pockets and ‘action hems’ (fig.1). The handling session was a fascinating exchange, as through the group’s observations and practical experience, I learnt more about how these coats were constructed and the challenges that the makers would have faced.

Fig.1. Action hem

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a joy to see how these talented women had interpreted and introduced elements from the Museum’s collection into their own work. I am greatly looking forward to supporting the future stages of this inspiring project!

 

PROTOTYPE is the pilot of a wider LCF initiative, 1000 Coats Art as contribution to society; made by society for society. 1000 Coats was conceived by artist Whitney McVeigh. Whitney is Fellow in Creative Practice at University of the Arts, London College of Fashion. Her work explores the psychological and physical aspects that underlie and define us as humans. 1000 Coats will see 100 women in East London make winter coats for children living in poverty during 2018/19.

For more information about 1000 Coats, please visit: http://whitneymcveigh.com

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